Is It Still Scary: Dumbo Pink Elephants on Parade ...

You might be wondering why Dumbo is being considered for the question, “Is It Still Scary?” If you were a sensitive child who remembers the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene, you already know why, and you’re nodding your head emphatically in affirmation. Besides the fact that it’s bizarre and scary that we still have circus animals in 2016, that scene scarred childhoods and imprinted itself in many memories. As a child you have a pretty limited understanding of what inebriation is. You’re not quite sure if someone can get drunk from soapy water or if you should be worried about swallowing the water in your bubble bath in case it...

Is it Still Great: The Departed 10 Years Later

Time is a force like battery acid, corrosive. Frequently, films are released to raves and fawning admiration, only to soon fall into obscurity, hardly seen purposefully by anyone except maybe the Turner Classic Movies guy. Other times films will be positively received initially, and then quickly become nearly universally despised, touted as “overrated tripe” or the even more cutting, “lame.” For a cinephile, to see any film, even the most overrated and lame of them all, succumb to a fate like this is a depressing and dispiriting thing to witness. To see a truly great film, a film that honestly earned its accolades during its postnatal run...

Is It Still Scary: Return to Oz

From 1995 to 1996, my sister subjected my family to a daily viewing of The Wizard of Oz. Daily. As in she convinced each of my recently divorced parents that she’d be less traumatized by our broken family if she got to eat Ramen Noodles for dinner every night, sitting in front of the TV, watching her rapidly deteriorating VHS copy of the beloved 1939 classic. Maybe in hopes of expanding our movie collection or perhaps in a desperate fit of, “I can’t fucking watch The Wizard of Oz one more time,” my dad introduced us to Return to Oz, the 1985 sequel-ish to the (set on permanent repeat in the Maxwell household) classic musical. He had a...

Is It Still Good?: The Fifth Element

Past: I was 13 when I went to the movies to see The Fifth Element. I saw it in a cinema called The Odeon in Bromborough with a friend and a girl I had a crush on. It was on some sort of special day where tickets were, say, ten pound each and my parents had driven to the cinema in the morning and queued up for an hour to get us all cheap tickets for my first ever cinema double bill: The Fifth Element and One Fine Day (starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer). I remember pretty much nothing of One Fine Day, but I remember falling head over heels in love with The Fifth Element, and the girl I had a crush on falling asleep during it. I...

Is it Still One of the Worst?: Elektra

Prior the release of Daredevil season one last year, I revisited the 2003 Daredevil film to see if it still deserved to be regarded as one of the most disappointing film adaptations of a comic book character. And it still does. Now, prior to the release of Daredevil season two and the introduction of Elektra and the Hand to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve watched the spin-off film Elektra to see if it too deserved to be viewed as one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Elektra starts off with the makings of a decent movie and a really fun martial arts movie. The film’s opening offers a brief history of a discreet war between...

Is It Still Funny?: Zoolander

The answer is yes. Yes, I can still repeat most of the lines in Zoolander while I watch it. Determining this was not my goal in watching it again last weekend, but it’s nice to know that some skills just don’t fade with time. My goal, originally, was to determine whether Zoolander was still funny, 14 years later. I realized, as I laughed at Derek’s tiny phone and the 2001: A Space Odyssey scene in Maury Ballstein’s office, that, for me, Zoolander will always be funny, whether it’s objectively funny or not. It recalls to me my 15 year-old self, my 15 year-old friends, and the good times we had quoting Zoolander at each other. In fact, when I...

Is It Still Charming?: Babe

In 1995, children and adults alike fell in love with the story of Babe, a polite shepherding pig. In a rapidly changing and chaotic world, Babe provided a heart-warming story that included familiar tropes: the runt that proves himself with the help of a mother figure and the interloper that gradually wins over a disapproving alpha male, to name a couple. Yet Babe was a good story in its own right, differentiating itself through the incorporation of modern anxieties and humor, and the skillful integration of animatronics and CGI. Today, with the inundation of the internet, stories of domestic and foreign terrorism, and spectacular CGI, is...

Is It Still Better Than The Goonies?: The Monster ...

Nostalgia is overrunning us at the moment. So many sequels, remakes, and spin-offs  are coming into existence to cash in on the nostalgia of people who were children in the 80s and 90s. It can be a dangerous thing to put rose tinted glasses over our eyes and make us think crazy things like that The Goonies isn’t shitty, or that the world needs a sequel to Beetlejuice. The danger of watching a movie from your youth is that you open yourself up for disappointment, and once the dominos begin to fall they never stop. And if one movie from your childhood is poor, maybe they all are. One of my favourite movies growing up was The Monster Squad. I...

Is It Still Scary: The Birds

It’s important when watching films, and old films in particular, to put them in the context of their time, and to try and understand why certain things appear in certain ways and appreciate other aspects despite their obvious dated nature. In order to be able to encapsulate the artistry and talent on display in a movie, one must look past the indelible watermark of age set on the motion picture. Take a film like the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, for instance. At certain moments, Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the future seems obsolete and very much a product of its time. Not only that, but many of the sequences in the film have been aped to...

David Wain, Dada & Wet Hot American Summer

David Wain and Michael Showalter’s Wet Hot American Summer has inexplicably become the cult-classic comedy hit of 2001. Initially a critical and commercial failure, Wain’s directorial debut is still an amazing spectacle almost fifteen years later. The comic punches and sophomoric gags are still uproariously entertaining in an entirely warmhearted and tender manner, and the jokes that arise among and between the film’s summer camp caricatures are immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever been forced, willingly or not, to spend time in the great outdoors with other people of your own biological age during the dog days of summer. But is...

Is It Still Funny: Austin Powers: International Ma...

In 1997, Mike Myers wrote and starred in a comedy that spoofed the spy genre, and James Bond in particular. Myers, coming off of his well-received Wayne’s World movies (which he also wrote and starred in) became a box office sensation domestically, and launched Myers to movie stardom. It arrived at just the right time, filling a gap in the market we may not have even realized was there. Whether we knew it or not, we all wanted silly comedy, and the now thirty-year-old series it was spoofing was due for a parody. With the much-celebrated Goldeneye being the most recent Bond film at the time, Austin Powers came in at a time when 007 was...

Is It Still Great?: Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke came into my life at a time when I was intensely set against Japanese animation. Up to that point, I had never come across anime of any sort that I didn’t completely despise (granted I mostly associated the art form with the likes of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh). I have since somewhat changed my tune (now I only think most of it is bad rather than all of it) and I owe that to a friend from high school who practically forced me to borrow her copy of Princess Mononoke. Hayao Miyazaki’s anime fantasy-action epic was not only a landmark achievement in Japanese animation, not only was it a personal stepping stone for me to broaden my...

Is It Still Good?: Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood turns 85 this month. In recent years he’s become an increasingly odd character. With his talking to chairs, questionable directorial choices, and general “grumpy old man” demeanor, it’s easy to forget that Eastwood used to be a universal symbol of masculinity and general badassery. There was a time when his squinty-eyed stubbornness was seen as a trait of his stoic heroism, and less of his confusion brought on by his failing memory in old age. Taking a look back at Don Siegel’s 1971 cop thriller, Dirty Harry, it’s easy to see why Eastwood was once such a notable icon of manliness. From the first opening shots of Dirty Harry,...

Is It Still Terrifying?: Poltergeist (1982)

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a bit of an obsession with horror movies. As far back as grade school I can recall the feelings of fear and excitement that came with these films. It was something that I was not able to get from any other genre. Because my parents felt that horror movies were not appropriate for a young kid, I have distinct memories of staying awake well into the night so that I could watch them when everyone else was asleep so as to not get caught. One of these instances that stands out to me is the mid-July night when I discovered Poltergeist playing on TV at about one in the morning. By this point I had...

Is It Still Fun?: Gremlins

Just this past August, I participated in Forgotten Films’ 1984-themed blog-a-thon, and I couldn’t resist picking Gremlins as a forgotten favorite of mine to write about. It’s a weird, quirky gem of a film that shouldn’t be as deviously fun as it is. For letting its freak flag fly, it goes down in pop culture history as a weird genre mash-up of creature-horror and crazy-comedy and defies easily definable demographics. In fact, it helped give rise to the PG-13 rating. But is it still as fun as it used to be? Before I answer that, I have to bring up one important bit of news–last week, it was announced that...

Is It Still Horrible?: Daredevil

With the release of the highly anticipated Netflix series Daredevil this Friday, I decided to take a look back at the last live-action incarnation of the “Man Without Fear”. I was only a kid when I first watched this film on DVD. I thought nothing of it; Daredevil was a blind superhero who fought crime. I was way more interested in the more popular heroes of that age such as the billionaire vigilante Batman and the teenage superhero Spider-Man. It would only be years later that I’d discover that this was a universally panned film and it would prevent the character from being used on the big screen for more than a decade. I revisited the...

Is It Still Funny?: There’s Something About ...

I think I am a bit more forgiving of the Farrelly brothers than most people. Sure, they have made quite a few flat-out bad movies, but when they hit the mark and are firing on all cylinders, the Farrelly brothers can produce some truly stellar comedic work. That being said, so many of their movies are nigh unwatchable upon a revisit. So I approached There’s Something About Mary with a little bit of trepidation. I remembered loving the movie during my first viewing but at the time I was a dumb 13-year-old only interested in the raunchy humor. I had no idea how well the movie would hold up given the Farrelly brothers’ track record. Luckily,...

Is It Still Good/Okay? – Independence Day

I first saw Independence Day opening night in 1997 with my friends, Nick and Matty. It was probably the most excited I had ever been to see a film up to that point. Obviously we loved it and went and saw it a few more times. It was funny and exciting and had mind-blowing special effects and a rousing battle speech in it. What more could any self-respecting 12-year-old want? There was a big gap in viewings and then I saw it on TV when I was in my early twenties. And it was okay. It was cheesy and overwrought, but I had a few laughs watching it and it passed the time. So for this article the question is: Independence Day – Is it still...

Is It Still Good?: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  To start, I’m going to establish an acronym. From this point forward, because I feel ridiculous typing it out, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” will be “CCBB.” I think the story goes that when I was very young and had the chicken pox, one of my mother’s friends gave us a few movies to watch to take my mind off my itchiness, and these movies included a Care Bears special and CCBB.  Neither, I know now, were favorites with my mom, but while I completely understood that about the Care Bears, I couldn’t remember much not to like about CCBB. I watched it over and over and over, to the degree that I still know most of the words to the title song....

Is it Still Badass?: Bloodsport

When I was six, my preferred fighting style was bouncing around on all fours, emulating Ricardo Morra, the smallest, most agile, and probably most offensive entrant in the fictionalized Kumite tournament from Bloodsport.  I’d gallop crawl ape-style into the living room, leap from one piece of furniture to the next, hop as high as I could in the air and slap my dad on the chest with the side of my hand… before he’d swat me like a fly and ask my mom if I’d met with the school counselor yet. That changed over the years.  By the time I was 21, my physique dictated that I change my style.  When my roommates and I held a...

Is It Still Beating?: Romeo + Juliet

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I decided it was time to revisit the sensational tale of two young romantics and the terrible decisions they make in the name of love. No, I’m not talking about 50 Shades of Grey (the internet will surely give you your fill of that this week). I’m talking about the teenage hit of 1996: William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. I was in high-school the first time I watched Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and by then the “modern” adaptation was already a decade old. The fact that Romeo and Juliet was never one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s works, coupled with the literal state of nausea Moulin Rogue left...

Are They Still Letdowns?: The Matrix Sequels

  When The Matrix was released in 1999, it was met with a resounding rush of enthusiasm. It was the kind of cool that only the advent of a new millennium could create. While Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace brought new interest (and heaps of criticism) to the franchise that had started a science fiction revolution two decades earlier, the Wachowskis pushed science-fiction forward, blending the excitement and fear of the internet age, anime, black leather, and sunglasses into something refreshing and mind-bending. At the start of the millennium, there was nothing more current than discussing bullet time and listening to Destiny’s...

Is It Still Great?: 10 Things I Hate About You

I know there are some classic teen movies from the 1980s (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982) and certainly from the early 2000s (Mean Girls, 2004) but I still say the 1990s were the peak of the high school set subgenre, at least in terms of prevalence. My favorite of this decade, and possibly of the entire subgenre, was always 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). When “Is It Still…” became a feature here, I realized that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to step back and ask myself why I’d loved this movie so much— and whether it’s still worth loving now. 10 Things I hate About You is a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The...

Is It Still Awesome?: Little Giants

When this new feature (Is it Still..?) launched, I immediately felt compelled to revisit Little Giants. It’s the best idea that I’ve had in a long time. Sibling rivalry, a collection of underdogs, the sweet center part in Dev0n Sawa’s overgrown bowl cut. But here’s the real kicker for me: This is a film about two brothers hashing out a sibling rivalry on the football field and, at the time of its release, I played football with my brother. At the time, I felt this might be a glimpse into my future. I’m so happy I didn’t grow up to be Rick Moranis. For the uninitiated (sorry you missed out): The story follows a young girl, Becky O’Shea...

Tremors Turns 25 and It’s Still Just Fun

According to his recent interview with the Telegraph, Kevin Bacon was distraught and anxious during his time filming Tremors. He saw the film as a career low. And it’s hard to consider this an unreasonable reaction. On paper, it still seems a tough sell, a hard movie to pitch as having any value. Tremors was released 25 years ago on this date, and even today, the film is just as identifiable by what it lacks as by what it offers. Tremors is a standard horror film, the sort in which characters are isolated and killed one by one, but it gives no mind to the Final Girl trope or the complex politics of sexuality, virginity, and gender...

Is It Still Good?: Home Alone

Welcome to Is It Still? where we look at movies from years gone by and ask, is it still good? Is it still bad? Is it still funny? Is it still scary? Is It Still Good? Home Alone Home Alone was the biggest movie when it was released in 1990, retaining its popularity by becoming a Christmas season staple. It was a wonderful childhood fantasy: being left alone in the house with no siblings or parents, and no rules. No door locked, no BB gun out of reach, and no one to tell you what to do. I watched it eight million times when it came out. I thought it was funny, ingenious, a little scary, clever, quotable, and all my friends agreed. Flash...